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A Times Editorial

Ethical cloud over governor finally lifted

Gov. Rick Scott came to the appropriate conclusion in selling his majority share in Solantic Corp., the chain of urgent care clinics he founded. His decision lifts an ethical cloud over his administration as he oversees the state's health care policy and embraces sweeping changes in Medicaid that could have benefited his family financially. Now the public debate can focus on the wisdom of the proposed changes instead of the impact they could have on Scott's wallet.

Scott correctly noted that holding the state's highest public office "is more than a full-time job" and that there is no time to spend on private business. His family's interest in Solantic was a clear conflict of interest, because the company likely would benefit from legislation that would steer millions of Medicaid recipients into managed care. Solantic already has contracts with private Medicaid plans. Scott also ordered random drug tests of state employees, and Solantic performs those drug tests (Scott and Solantic officials said they would not seek contracts for that work as long as Scott's family had an interest in the company).

Scott took a circuitous route to the sale of his Solantic shares. He recognized the potential conflict before he took office and placed his holdings in a revocable trust in his wife's name in January. He claimed he was "not involved" in the company just two weeks ago, then finalized a deal to sell his stake to a New York investment firm that already owned a 30 percent stake. However late, it was the right call.

Such conflicts will continue to arise until the Legislature passes reforms that would require the governor, lieutenant governor and three Cabinet members to place their personal assets into blind trusts. A bill (SB 86) that would accomplish those changes remains stuck in a Senate committee, and legislative leaders should get it moving.

Ethical cloud over governor finally lifted 04/14/11 [Last modified: Thursday, April 14, 2011 7:27pm]
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